Saudi Women’s Rights
Stuck at a Red Light
ASMAA AL-MOHAMED Journalist and Women’s Rights Activist; Online Editor for Al Arabiya; Saudi Arabia
PERHAPS NOWHERE IN THE WORLD do women lead a stranger life than in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Saudi women constantly endure being treated like secondclass citizens, even as men refer to them as “well-kept pearls and hidden treasures.” Despite everything said about the importance of women, women’s rights are still a chink in the Saudi state’s armor, and one of the most hotly debated, yet murkiest, topics in the country. It is difﬁcult to even prioritize the long list of challenges facing Saudi women, which range from their political and legal disenfranchisement, to their curtailed liberties and restraints imposed by their legal guardians. The humanitarian crises facing women in Saudi Arabia are extreme and there is often limited recourse for women who have suffered sexual abuse or rape. However, this article will primarily focus on those offenses that are permissible, not just in practice, but also under the Saudi legal framework. Struggling by Neighborhood Standards Glancing at the countries bordering Saudi Arabia, which share similar customs, traditions and tribal afﬁliations with the Kingdom, women in the other Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries enjoy more robust political and civil rights. In Bahrain, for instance, women have served in parliament and as ministers, whereas Saudi women still need a mahram (a close male relative such as a father, son or uncle) to accompany them even to the supermarket. Other GCC countries, meanwhile, have used quota arabinsight.org
46 Gulf Women Speak Out
systems to guarantee women a place in parliament, where they mix freely with men and engage in face-to-face debate, enjoying true equality. Women from the other Gulf states represent their countries as ambassadors – unaccompanied by male supervisors – whereas in Saudi Arabia, a woman’s male guardian is required to give signed permission (either open or for a deﬁned period of time) in order for her to travel at all. There are striking examples of women in the other GCC countries serving as ministers, such as Kuwait University Political Science Professor Masouma al-Mubarak, who was the ﬁrst Kuwaiti female minister (See al-Mekaimi, page 54). She successfully served in a variety of ministry posts, ﬁrst as minister of planning, then as minister of “Saudi society can accept administrative development affairs, then minwomen’s success in various ister of transportation, and ﬁnally as minister ﬁelds, but cannot accept seeing of health in the 2007 cabinet. Saudi women, or coming into direct contact by comparison, are still not allowed to enter with them.” parliament as anything more than advisors; they cannot vote, much less serve as representatives. Even stranger, when Saudi men deem it necessary to consult women – generally on the more trivial local or social affairs – interaction between the sexes occurs only via video conferencing. The six women who serve as parliamentary advisors, the only political position women have attained in Saudi Arabia, seem to be there less in a serious capacity and more as décor. Dr. Nora Alyousif, one of the Kingdom’s six state-appointed parliamentary advisors, denies that her position is merely a diversionary tactic, meant to distract from the plight of Saudi women.1 She highlights the progress that has been made in Saudi Arabia, which has allowed a woman like her to become an advisor to the oil ministry: “The Saudi leadership is working hard on reform and supporting women … Seventy years ago we were completely isolated from the world. The changes which are taking place are unmistakable, and we have ﬁnally started opening up.” Alyousif maintains that Saudi women, thanks to King Abdullah, have been given “a strong push for participation, and we have noticed a number of women and female ministerial representatives joining the king on his foreign...
...Women’sRights in Saudi Arabia
Being born and raised in America, I and many other Americans have been taught that we live in a country of freedom. Women and men are treated equally; every human being has rights, and you have the freedom to move at will and without restrictions. Women have come a long way in our country, gaining rights ever since the dawn of patriarchy and proving that they are just as good as men with the ability to think, speak, and act for themselves. However, discrimination of women still exists in America and many other countries, but women are taking a stand and trying to eliminate the inequality between genders, such as the difference in salaries, and the bad representation of and portrayal of women in the media. Women are even overcoming gender roles and in the household, especially recently due to the economy. We have seen husbands stay at home to take care of the kids and house while their wives go to work. Although America is not nearly free of discrimination, we are working to eliminate it. Other countries, especially in the Middle East, heavily oppress their women. The most recognized of them is Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is a Middle Eastern country which is home to the holy city of Mecca, where Muslims from all over the world go for pilgrimage. Saudi Arabia is a very religious country, and their laws are based on strict...
...This research will review women’srights in Saudi Arabia. This research will show how Saudi women can not complete simple daily activities because of their limited rights. I have conducted an online survey that showed what are the obstacles that Saudi women face. At the same time I received very shocking and surprising results which promise an upcoming brighter future for women’srights. I interviewed Dr.Noura al-Ajlan a member in the Saudi Human Rights Organization, in order to explore the problem in Saudi Arabia.
• The way media presents Kingdom of Saudi Arabia …………………3
• Brief history of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia …………………………..4
i. Subtopic 1:
• Women’s education………………………………………….4
ii. Subtopic 2:
• Women’s driving…………………………………………….5
iii. Subtopic 3:
• Women’s employment……………………………………….5
iv. Survey paragraph……………………………………………………6
v. Interview paragraph…………………………………………………7
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has successfully proven its presence to other countries and is by being one of the few fast growing countries around the world. Throughout time it has managed to develop in...
...The Lack of Women’sRights in Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia is a monarchy that strictly obliges their citizens to comply with the constitution, with the laws of Islam as its foundation. However, the laws in Saudi Arabia were created in accordance to how the kingdom’s councils’ interpreted the Qur’an, Islam’s holy book. According to the council, equality between women and men is against the laws of God and the law of nature dictated by women’s physiology. These beliefs positioned women in Saudi Arabia subservient to men as restrictions are strictly applied on their way of living. Women in the kingdom live under constant legal and cultural prohibitions, whether in the family or outside their homes. Some of these are the requirement to veil women, the inferior education provided to women, and the lack of freedom of movement.
According to Laura Kaya in Polygamy and Law in Contemporary Saudi Arabia, in order to keep modesty for both women and men, women were required to veil themselves (698). It is said that the concept of veiling does not only protect women’s modesty by being able to reserve their physical appearance solely for their spouse, but it also protects men’s modesty by keeping their minds off impure and lustful thoughts. Women are required to cover their bodies with an abaya, a black and loose cloak that covers the woman’s...
...Name: Mohamed D. Ray-zack
"Women'sright to Drive in KSA"
I realize how people of two genders, coming from different ethnic backgrounds and having various degrees of devotion to religions sit together, talk, argue, oppose, explore, learn, laugh, repent, and, hopefully, become better people with greater knowledge and higher ambitions. I am grateful to Charles Darwin for his clarifications of how evolution of living beings takes place; but beyond the biological explanation of traits inheritance, I can elaborate in his theory and apply it to the evolution of humans' favorable characteristics that could significantly evolve into what are so-called "principles". It really is impressive to see the immense evolution of human rights around the world since people started calling for liberty, civil rights, and virtuous democratic governments. We could successfully step to that high level of humanity understanding not by being dissimilar to each other, but by being open-minded and by seeing the inner beauty in others and ourselves. Along the way of evolution -my proposed rights evolution-, there are several challenges to our beliefs and traditions, which definitely come by turning points, and, eventually, support our rights and establish greater principles. One of the worldwide challenges stirring in the heart of the Middle East is Saudi...
Who are some of the main women'srights activists, and what are their main priorities, in Saudi Arabia?
In a religion most often conceived of its disposition of women in a male-dominated stature of the Islamic faith, feminism has a
unique approach. This approach shows the differences in women's realities, but without universalizing the concept of feminism. It is
very hard to deﬁne the elements of feminism in Islam, the western notion of feminism has come into the picture, while muslims have
also complicated the debate by providing different interpretations of the Qur'anic verses on women. The issue is further complicated by
the mixing of the faith with traditional cultural elements. Therefore, it has been difﬁcult to say what is Islamic and based on the scriptures
and what is not. Due to high levels of faith, there is also a view that women'srights and feminism is through Islam, the view that women
really do gain equal, if not more power in their position as muslims. The common cultural view of a woman in general not even
considering religion, is very different in Arabian culture dating back to pre-islamic history, where women then covered the face and hair
in status. As modesty implications have been strictly applied by the mutawain (or clerical ofﬁcers in many countries who infamously
enforce strict religious rules and norms), the populous tend to obey all...
Should all women be equal to their status, opportunities and rights? Every woman should have the ability to express their freedoms and rights, deserve equal treatment within their society and region, and every country needs to reinforce the rules for women. There is no dignity and respect for women universally. Gender equality is still out of reach for many women worldwide.
Presently, women have gained legalrights throughout the world. The women’srights movement changed society into what we know today. They have allowed Canadian women to obtain a certain formal equality. They have also allowed women to vote and been given equal pay for equal work, however; women had to fight through difficult times to get through discrimination in the 19th century. In the past, women did not have the rights and freedoms as most men and were treated harshly. In other words, women had almost no rights at all. They were not allowed to vote, they could not hold in public offices, and were not given custody of their children if the couple had a divorce agreement. As a result, they were mainly seen as homemakers. Women were inferior to men in many different ways. Women did not have any property rights and once she was married, she was no longer allowed to own any land or property. A man could sell his house and take all the money for...
...Women'sRights Violations in Afghanistan
Martin Luther King Jr. once said, "True peace is not merely the absence of tension, it is the presence of justice.” It means that without equality, there is no real end to a conflict. Equality is one of the many human rights every person is entitled to. It is never acceptable to deny people their basic human rights; however, this has occurred frequently throughout history. A wide variety of groups have been discriminated against through violations of human rights, but women have faced this hardship the most. Times have changed, and many women now possess their deserved human rights, but others are less fortunate. In the book, A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini, human rights violations against women occur regularly. When young Laila considers marrying instead of gaining an education, her father talks her out of it. To reassure her, he says, “when the war is over, Afghanistan is going to need you as much as its men, maybe even more. Because a society has no chance of success if its women are uneducated...no chance” (Hosseini 103). All of the women in A Thousand Splendid Suns are affected by a variety of human rights violations. Women in Afghanistan face intolerable, cruel treatment on a daily basis and this must come to an end.
An array of human rights are being deprived from women. Inequality,...
...Do you think 13 years old is old enough to get married? To me this is crazy at 13 years old a person is still a child with a lot of growing up to do. In Iran a girl 13 years of age can legally get married. There are many negative effects of getting married at such a young age and many marriages end up in control by the husband. About 1 in every 3 women in Iran is abused throughout their lifetime (Esfandiari, 2003) and in Iran it is just a part of their culture. There are things the U.S. can do to help the women gain their rights and have a higher standard of living. Women have very little rights in Iran and it just isn’t fair.
In Iran the country follows the Sharia, which means Islamic law. “What constitutes childhood according to Sharia differs from that of the Convention of the Right of the Child, which describes “anybody under the age of eighteen as a child” and to which Iran is signatory.” (Tremayne, 2006) Although the Iranian government signed this CRC they did not put it into action because of their religious practices and set the age of legal marriage to 13, unless their legal guardian and another source like a doctor/judge acknowledged they were ready.
Early marriage in Iran has different effects on an adolescent’s physical and psychosocial health. Some of the effects of early marriage are risk of early pregnancy, premature labor, complications during delivery, low birth weights of the babies and poor survival chances...